The father of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni (Junior), a pupil of the Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, who died under controversial circumstances, on Wednesday, said the family was not surprised at the release of suspects in the case.
He noted that the acquittal of the suspects was to pave way for the reopening of the college.
Sylvester’s death went viral following a social media post by his cousin, Perry Oromoni, who alleged that some senior pupils of the school beat him up in his hostel because he refused to join a cult.
But the school denied the claim, stating that the boy complained of leg pains following an injury he sustained while playing football.
The state government ordered the indefinite closure of the school pending the outcome of an investigation into the matter.
Five students and five employees of the school were arrested by the police.
However, legal advice by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Adetutu Oshinusi, cleared the suspects.
The legal advice, dated January 4, 2022, and addressed to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, and the trial magistrate, Olatunbosun Adeola, stated that the interim and final autopsy report by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, and the toxicology report of post-mortem samples of the Central Hospital, Warri, were in agreement that the causes of death were septicaemia, lobar pneumonia with acute pyelonephritis, pyomyositis of the right ankle and acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis.
The advice also noted that the result of the toxicology was not indicative of any toxic or poisonous substance in Sylvester’s body.
The document, which noted that no prima facie case of murder, involuntary manslaughter or malicious administering of poison with intent to harm against the students was established, also cleared the school and its five employees of negligent act causing harm.
The advice read in part, “From available facts in the duplicate case file, the investigation carried out by the police did not reveal that any secret society name, tattoo or insignia of any unlawful society was found in the possession of any of the suspects during the investigation carried out by the police.
“To hold otherwise would amount to sniffing for an offence and a speculative act which is not permitted in law. It is trite law that suspicion, no matter how grave, cannot be a ground for conviction.”
Reacting to the DPP’s advice, the deceased’s father, Sylvester Oromoni (Snr), said the family would seek its own legal advice.
He said, “I will not make my next line of action public for now, but what came out today is not strange to us. On December 31, the Commissioner of Police said at the instance of the DPP and the Attorney General he had released the house masters so far there was no case; so what came out today was not different from what the Commissioner of Police said.
“They are doing all these things because they want to open the school and they have their own agenda. This is just the beginning of the case; we have not even started. I will also advise the school not to open, and if they decide to open, there is no problem, we have not started this matter. We will get our legal advice and know the next action to take.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said the advice was hasty.
He said, “The report has not laid to rest the allegations surrounding the gruesome murder of Sylvester Oromoni. The report is escapist and hasty as the authorities are aware of the fact that the Chief Coroner of Lagos State has ordered that an inquest be conducted into the circumstances surrounding the unnatural death of Sylvester Oromoni. The inquest, which commenced before the coroner on December 16, 2021, has been adjourned till January 15, 2022 for further hearing.”